OLYMPIA – Small distilleries will be able to produce more liquor under a new law that triples their maximum capacity to 60,000 gallons.
The law, signed Thursday by Gov. Chris Gregoire, is a reflection of the fast growth of Spokane’s “craft” distillery, Dry Fly, which was the first such operation in Washington since Prohibition when it was set up in 2007.
The original limit for craft distilleries of 20,000 gallons was essentially a guess, Dry Fly co-owner Don Poffenroth said Thursday. The Spokane distillery is about three-fourths of the way to hitting that original limit and wants some room to expand, although it probably won’t reach the new limit.
“I don’t think so, but I also never thought we’d grow this fast,” he said. But the higher limit is becoming a national standard, and the new law also allows distilleries to make liquor for a private customer from his or her own grain, without that counting against the 60,000 gallon limit.
Two other craft distilleries are selling liquor in Washington, a third is in production and 10 have received licenses while 16 more have license applications pending. But Dry Fly remains the largest operation.
Gregoire paused before signing the bill, looked at its sponsor Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane, and asked: “Where are my samples?”
Replied Marr: “I tried to stop by a state liquor store and it wasn’t open at 10 in the morning.”
Even if the store had been open, he would not have been able to buy any of Dry Fly’s wheat whiskey, he added. That product is in such limited supply it usually sells out the day it’s released.